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Two Wyoming agencies debut their plan to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions around Dubois

Two mule deer look at the camera as they stand next to a gap in fencing.
Wyoming Game and Fish

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department and Wyoming Department of Transportation are trying to reduce collisions between wildlife and vehicles on Highway 26 east and west of Dubois. The stretch of road is particularly deadly for deer and costly for people, too. In response, the agencies have developed a plan to help reduce the number of accidents in that area.

Daryl Lutz is a wildlife management coordinator for the Lander region with Wyoming Game and Fish. He said the area has one of the highest rates of wildlife-vehicle collisions in the state, so much so that people call it the “mule deer gauntlet.”

“Of all the crashes that occur on this stretch of highway, 74 percent of them are due to wildlife vehicle collisions. And of those collisions that occur on an annual basis, on average, they cost about $791,000 a year,” he said.

The proposed mitigation plan includes adding three new overpasses and an underpass to help separate animals from the roadway. It also calls for improving already existing underpasses and removing vegetation so motorists can better see deer from farther away.

“Reducing those collisions is going to be beneficial not just for wildlife, but for the folks traveling back and forth on that stretch of roadway,” said Lutz. “I just hope we get a lot of enthusiasm and continued public support, which we've had.”

According to Lutz, trying to figure out solutions to the problem has been a big priority for the local community for a long time.

“When I first came to Lander twelve years ago, we were talking about proposed hunting seasons at one of my first public meetings in Dubois. But I heard more about people asking me, ‘What can we do to address the mule deer gauntlet?’”

The two agencies hope to get the mitigation projects started as soon as possible. The public can hear more about the final plan, the timeline for the project and their current strategies for securing funding at a public meeting on April 17. It’ll take place at the Dennison Lodge in Dubois starting at 6 p.m.

Hannah Habermann is the rural and tribal reporter for Wyoming Public Radio. She has a degree in Environmental Studies and Non-Fiction Writing from Middlebury College and was the co-creator of the podcast Yonder Lies: Unpacking the Myths of Jackson Hole. Hannah also received the Pattie Layser Greater Yellowstone Creative Writing & Journalism Fellowship from the Wyoming Arts Council in 2021 and has taught backpacking and climbing courses throughout the West.
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